Family Law & Divorce
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Facing family law matters can be some of the most painful and stressful legal experiences. Decisions made regarding family law cases not only affect the future of the parties involved but also the future of children and other friends and family involved.
We have helped clients facing family law matters including:
- Irreconcilable Differences Divorces
- Fault–Based Divorces
- Property Division & Equitable Distribution
- Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Modification Actions
- Contempt Actions
- Termination of Parental Rights
- Paternity Actions
- Separate Maintenance Actions
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Family law matters in Mississippi are handled in chancery court. An effective attorney will work hard to ensure your desired outcome, while minimizing the stress of the process as much as possible.
What is family law?
Family law covers all areas dealing with family matters in court. For example, this includes divorces, both contested and irreconcilable difference divorce (also known as “no-fault”); child custody issues; obtaining child support and defense of child support actions against a non-custodial parent; guardianships; and adoptions.
What are grounds for divorce in Mississippi?
If your spouse does not agree to an irreconcilable difference divorce, then you must file a contested divorce on one or more of the 12 following grounds. You must prove that your spouse:
- is naturally impotent
- committed adultery
- is sentenced to any state penitentiary (jail or prison) without pardon
- deserts you for one year
- is habitually drunk
- excessively and habitually uses opium, morphine, or other similar drugs
- habitually treats you in a cruel and inhuman way, including domestic abuse
- had a mental illness or intellectual disability at the time of your marriage and you did not know about it at the time
- was already married to someone else when you “married” each other
- was pregnant by someone else when you got married and you did not know about the pregnancy
- is related to you
- is incurably mentally ill
See the Causes for Divorce in Mississippi Code section 93-5-1
How can you use domestic abuse as grounds for divorce?
Using domestic abuse as a grounds for a contested divorce can be based on your testimony that the abuser:
- caused or attempted to cause bodily injury
- caused or attempted to cause physical threat to put you in fear of immediate serious bodily harm; or
- engaged in a pattern of behavior against you of threats or intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse, forced isolation, sexual extortion or sexual abuse, or stalking or aggravated stalking
How long do divorce proceedings take?
An irreconcilable difference divorce takes 60 days upon filing of the joint complaint for divorce. A contested divorce has no timeframe and may take much longer depending on what the parties contest.
How is child custody determined?
Traditionally, courts automatically awarded custody to the mother — but today, that is no longer the case. Courts today weigh several factors in deciding who will have primary custody of children in a divorce. Learn more
What is joint custody?
Joint custody is where both parents share equally in custody of the children. This means each parent has the child an equal amount of time, and neither parent has more custody rights than the other.
The two types of custody rights are physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is which parent the children reside with the majority of time. Legal custody is the right of one or both parents to have decision-making rights in regards to child’s health, education and welfare. Joint custody would mean equal parenting; the parents agree to co-parent together and share equally in custody of the child.
How is child support determined?
Child support is based on statutory law and is generally a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, based on the number of children the parties had together. The total amount reflects all sources of income, adjusted after standard deductions; from that total, the percentage due can be anywhere from 14 percent for one child up to 26 percent for five or more children. Child support is paid until the children reach age 21. Read the Child Support Award Guidelines in Mississippi Code section 43-19-101.
Do grandparents have visitation rights?
Grandparents may petition the court for visitation rights when one or both of the parents have had their parental rights terminated or one or both of the parents are deceased.
In a recent decision Smith v. Martin, handed down April 20, 2017, the Mississippi Supreme Court now requires the Court to determine if, in addition to the above provisions, granting reasonable grandparent visitations rights are in the best interest of the child.
That specific case also assigns the Court the determination of the frequency and amount. These findings by the Court make clear that Grandparents do not have the same rights as the parents, even when those parental rights are removed.
Alternatively, a grandparent may petition for visitation when they fall outside of these guidelines and can show they had a viable relationship with the child and it is in the child’s best interest to have court ordered visitation.
The grandparent of a child who has both parents living may petition a chancery court for visitation, and the visitation may be granted, provided the court finds that the grandparent has established a viable relationship with the child, the parent or custodian of the child has unreasonably denied the grandparent visitation rights, and visitation would be in the best interests of the child.
Hiring a family lawyer
Families can face myriad struggles in navigating the legal system in Mississippi and Tennessee. Obtaining a family lawyer can be an effective method of avoiding further stress on a family involved in a legal matter.